Back in the day when I was listing houses,
showing them and occasionally selling one,
I took a class at the University of Evansville.
Taught by a priest. Father Something.

I remember nothing about the class
other than reading Leisure, the Basis of Culture,
the gist of which was that we had leisure to thank
for plays, music, paintings and such. Think
Shakespeare, Mozart, Salvador Dali
staring out windows at squirrels braiding oak trees,
birds pecking dogwoods, dogs marking maples
before they take up pen (the artists),
harpsichord or paintbrush and write Hamlet,
compose Eine Kleine Nacht Music
or paint The Persistence of Memory.

(An Amazon Prime truck just drove by.)

Maybe that was Dali’s point, what with melting clocks,
that memory isn’t persistent. I can’t remember
what year I retired, which episode
of Picket Fences I streamed last night
or exactly what point I intended to make
when I started writing this poem.

(The Primus’s cat, Opie, is running across our yard.)

Isn’t it nice to sit back and do nothing?
No grass to mow, no people to tolerate. No news
to incomprehend. One time I saw a possum
drink from our bird bath. In daylight! Once
I saw a grackle mount a grackle in our redbud,
but she wasn’t having any part of him.
She raised her head, flapped her wings and

(There’s my neighbor, walking his blind dog, Willie.)

flew off, never dreaming
one day she would land here.

Mark Williams’s poems have appeared in “The Southern Review,” “New Ohio Review,” “Beyond Words,” “Rattle,” and other journals and anthologies. Kelsay Books published his collection, “Carrying On,” in 2022. His fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in “The Baffler,” “Eclectica,” “Cleaver,” and elsewhere. He lives in Evansville, Indiana.